From Invisible Colleges to Invisible Collages

From P2P Foundation
Jump to navigation Jump to search


Zak Stein:

"Invisible collages are civilizational fulcrums. Recall that in 1660, Francis Bacon and other luminaries founded the Royal Academy of Science, which was the first organization of its kind in the world and marked the beginning of the Enlightenment. Prior to this the intellectual currents that would become modern science were only to be found “underground” in what was known as the “invisible college.” Rumors of this invisible college began as an aspect of the Rosicrucian movement but were made real by the efforts of Comenius. The Royal Academy of Science was a careful movement from invisible to visible, from outlaw to new law.

In the 1970s Francis Yates largely demystified the Rosicrucian Order, but in the process she revealed the true historical function of Rosicrucian ideas and strategies in the birth of modern science itself. There was a small group of innovators working to maintain the insights of the Renaissance during a time of religious persecution and near total war. There was a revival of the ancient “pagan” study of nature by a small group, working in secret on the foundations of human sense-making, and thus working to orchestrate a major civilizational transition. Francis Bacon and others (such as Robert Boyle and Rene Descartes) plugged into the spirit of the invisible college through Comenius, and thus the delicate critical path from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment was navigated.

Similar invisible colleges appear on the edges of fading paradigms and failing civilizations. Here small groups work on the nature of sense-making itself, relatively free from the dictates of the fading and failing legacy systems. Basic innovations are made in these colleges that set the attractors and trajectories of future civilizational forms, which are necessary to replace current forms that have entered a terminal (self-terminating) dynamic. The amplification and manifestation of insights from these colleges has involved the reconfiguration of legacy institutions at a foundational level, and thus the impacts of the colleges have been powerful, but indirect and subtle, aimed at the deeper source code of culture itself.

The “invisibility” of these colleges is essential for their success, as are their small size, and above normal forms of internal coherence (found in bonds of trust and secrecy). Because these colleges were always on the fringes of unstable paradigms and social systems they sometimes needed to be protected or occluded from direct gaze. The archetypal image is of an academy set out on the edges of the polis, where reality and civilization meet, and wilderness is transformed into new frontier. Across their various historical instantiations, the invisible colleges were operated according to a comprehensive and innovative paideia —a shared philosophical vision of life, knowledge, and education — which is more primary than whatever science may inspire and enable. A new orientation to knowledge and reality itself was the backbone of these colleges. The powerful diplomatic and political effect of their cultural and scientific innovations was the result of fundamentally new forms of sense-making being practiced; these forms were literally impossible to practice elsewhere, yet they were the necessary attractor basins for the future of civilization."